You can’t force a moment. I know this but sometimes I still try.
Yesterday there were lots of not-so-good moments. The kids were cranky and needy and I worked hard all day but didn’t feel like I got much done. We were late to everything because of domino effects of dumb little things that kept happening – misplaced shoes and homework, spending way too long trying to find poster board at Target, the cashier at the shoe store giving me a hard time about exchanging shoes I bought for my son last week that had already fallen apart, one thing after another. I ended up snapping at the kids quite a bit and not feeling like the mom I want to be at all.
But this day could be saved! I helped the kids hurry along with homework and dishes with the promise of Christmas decorating accompanied by Christmas music, a treat, and a nice story time by the fire using the favorite Christmas books we’d pull out of the Christmas boxes. I’d pull out each decoration and tell the story of where it came from and what it meant to our family. They’d all be enthralled and excited to follow directions about where each thing should go. I was sure we were in for some beautiful moments to end the day on a lovely note.
As I helped one child get ready for basketball, another one started pulling out all the tree ornaments when we don’t have a tree yet and while I was trying to explain to him why that stuff needed to be left alone for now, another child was ready for a special moment with me – he wanted to show me each favorite books as he pulled them out of a box like they were long-lost friends. Then there was another child saying “be quiet” and making snappish and callous comments as he tried to do the last of his homework while one of his little brothers wanted to show him some exciting stuff (darn, I heard myself in a few of those snappish comments!). As soon as I started paying attention to one child, someone else was needing me. Meanwhile decorations were ending up pulled out and put in random places all over and the control-freak in me was feeling pretty threatened! The moments I had in mind weren’t happening – at all.
I dropped the whole decorating idea and just plopped down on the couch, feeling defeated. Quickly, I was joined by my 6-year-old twins, books in hand, geam in their eyes. They snuggled up on either side of me and placed a book on my lap. The older kids came and sat down too. I’d told them we’d just read one book as it was getting a bit late but we read four books. We just couldn’t stop. The kids were creating the beautiful moments I’d craved with their snuggling and cute comments, memories and ideas as we read.
So last night, I learned (yet again) that the best moments are not planned by the parents. The best moments happen when the parents relax and let’s the kids bring the moments to them. So much of the joy of moments is stamped out when we get too attached to our own visions of particular joyful moments we’re trying to create.
Just be there. Just listen. Just sit there. Just smile.